Prayer and Devotion a Staple for Booksellers in Downtown Monrovia

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What wakes you up and gets you going? Some prefer coffee, others prefer a hefty ‘cold bowl’.  But yesterday, the gathering under the former Ministry of Education building on Broad Street, Monrovia was unusual but there was an excitement among them that indicated the occasion was larger than expected.  The leading voice was that of Gospel singer William Carr, who led a crowd in what appeared to be a healthy morning dose of prayer and devotion.

During the day, the space is lined with stacks with books and retail stationery supplies for sale.  The ground is sprawled with the day’s newspapers, as customers crowd the narrow passage way that’s left, to view headlines or simply make their way through.  Get there a bit earlier and you might find yourself wondering if this is a business center or a church. 

“This is a period for our devotion,” James S. Liburd told the Daily Observer yesterday, as the number of people increased and the dancing moved in a crescendo.

 “Every morning,” Liburd said, “we gather here and invite a gospel singer to come lead us in devotion. This usually brings lots of people together to fellowship.” 

The gathering, including both men and women, turned the location into what someone described as a ‘rock dance’ with men and women clapping their hands in anticipation of the song being sung.

Prayer and devotion are commonly held to jumpstart many gatherings and communal activities in Liberia. Before any of their major undertakings, groups take a moment to recognize God’s presence in their lives and to pray for success in their respective activities and dealings with each other.

The devotional practice is not unique to these books and stationery sellers.  Many commercial buses during the morning rush hour might pick up a praying passenger who would spontaneously lead fellow passengers in rousing prayer and devotion. 

For Liburd and his colleagues, however, daily morning devotion is more of an imperative for their personal and business survival.  It is a must.

“There used to be misunderstanding in the past around here,” Liburd said, “but since we started having devotion and invoking the Spirit of the Lord among us here, we have had peaceful living here.”

As the music echoed through every ear and men and women began to clap and dance, many of those attracted to the scene joined the celebration of thanksgiving and devotion.

“How long does it last?” was a question posed to Liburd, who answered, “It is one hour every morning and we invite other gospel singers for the purpose.” The electrifying atmosphere was engaging and it lifted the spirits of those drawn to it, but Liburd did not agree to a suggestion as to whether the occasion was in any way part of the celebration of the national successes over the insidious Ebola Virus Disease.

  And so for the next one hour, men and women, and particularly booksellers  and those who operate their businesses under the former Ministry of Education building, they lifted their voices to God in thanksgiving and praise for his divine mercy that has made life possible, said another bystander to the Daily Observer.

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